Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 26 November 2014

I was inches from death: Catholic teen rescued by his dad from hate mob

Lorny Roberts yesterday with his bandaged arm
Lorny Roberts yesterday with his bandaged arm

A Catholic teenager has told of how his father pulled him away from a savage sectarian beating just before a man tried to smash his head with a breeze-block.

Cross-community youth worker Lorny Roberts (18) was lying beaten on the ground after a gang attacked him in the loyalist Fountain estate in Londonderry.

The Creggan man was left with head injuries and broken bones in his hand. Mr Roberts was with his former girlfriend, who is from the Fountain, at the time.

Speaking to the Belfast Telegraph, he said he feared for his life and believed the attack on him was attempted murder.

He said: "I had been standing in Wapping Lane talking to my ex-girlfriend around 3.30am and there wasn't anyone else around.

"Out of nowhere this gang appeared. I really think someone saw me, knew I was a Catholic and rounded up this gang.

"These were men all aged between 17 and 25 and they came out of nowhere, so someone was have tipped them off that a Catholic was in the area.

"I heard them chatting and I was scared, so I rang my three friends and told them to get to where I was. But they also went to our house and got my daddy.

"As I was walking away they (the gang) attacked me the first time, but I got away. But they came at me again, kicking me and kicking me.

"I managed to get up and run but they kicked me in the heel, tripped me and I fell down.

"All the time they were shouting 'Fenian this' and 'Taig that'.

"One of them got right down and was punching me but I grabbed him and was trying to use him for protection. I could hear my ex-girlfriend, who was crying her eyes out pleading with them to stop."

Mr Roberts, who is a butcher, works part-time as a youth worker. He said he was at a loss as to why he was targeted, but believes he will be able to positively identify at least some of his attackers.

He continued: "While I was on the ground I could see past them and I saw one of them coming from a building site with a breeze-block, running at me.

"I was so scared and I will never forget that boy's face for as long as I live. But just as he was coming at me I heard a car screeching to a halt and I thought: 'Thank God, someone is here to help'.

"I didn't realise immediately that it was my daddy in the car, but it was and he grabbed me and pulled me away from them. Just as he did the massive block the boy had hit the ground right where my head was.

"Even now I'm still terrified when I think about that, he could have killed me."

A spokesman for the PSNI at Strand Road said police were treating the attack as a sectarian hate crime.

He added: "Police received reports of an assault at Wapping Lane. Police later spoke to an 18-year-old man who said he had been assaulted by at least four unknown males.

"He sustained a broken right hand and injuries to his face."

The PSNI has appealed for anyone who can help identify the attackers to call 101 or the confidential telephone on 0800 555 111.

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